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The Power of Ignorance: Turning What You Don’t Know Into an Advantage

I’m ignorant. There, I said it.

It feels great to get that off my chest. I started a new role at Autodesk 8 months ago, knowing next to nothing about 3D design, additive manufacturing, CFD, BIM, or even the company's flagship products like AutoCAD.

Why am I in such a celebratory mood about this? Because this very lack of knowledge, plus what seems like a lifetime in open source & community, has prepared me to look at things from a different (and much wider) perspective. This is an important component of my job, and I believe nearly anyone can learn a lot from this approach. Anthony K. Tjan said it best in a 2010 Harvard Business Review article:

If desperation is the mother of innovation, then ignorance might be its father.

Let me be clear that ignorance is the starting point, and if you never move past that, it does you no good. But, ignorance, combined with a drive to become enlightened, is the recipe for mastery of anything. Learning how to ask great questions is key in this…